Can you imagine a muscle car that gets more than 30 miles per gallon? That’s what the Ecoboost Mustang does, and it’s one big reason why it’s so popular. Metro News Service photo

Mustang continues tradition while advancing fuel-economy technology

A Ford icon lives on

Sometimes I feel like a typecast actor. When my first book, “Mustang by Design,” came out last fall, I was super proud. It was like a parent birthing a baby. And in many ways that book is still my baby. My second book, which is on the history of the Ford F-Series truck, comes out in February 2020 (both books are available on Amazon and at major booksellers). So now I feel like I’m the “Ford book” guy. It’s merely coincidental. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not apologizing nor am I trying to skirt the fact that I’ve written two books on the history of Ford’s two most iconic vehicles. So what’s with all the shameless self-promoting, you might ask?

This week, I’m reviewing the 2019 Ford Mustang. It’s a familiar friend. And Ford lent me this Mustang to drive to a book-signing event at Gale Halderman’s museum. You probably know Gale, topic of “Mustang by Design,” but he’s the Tipp City resident who designed the original Mustang. He still hosts many car show events at his impressive Tipp City museum. So off to Gale’s I went for his largest car show of the year.

Ford hooked me up with a spiffy Orange Fury Mustang. It still has many exterior features that harken back to the classic Mustang of the 1960s, the one Gale designed. I’m a sucker for those pony cars, for sure. But these new Mustangs are gorgeous with their modern looks and aggressive styling. Much of this modern Mustang still bears a striking resemblance to Gale’s original. The side scoop is still there. The long hood and short deck? Still there. The gorgeous three-slash tail lights that are symbolic of most Mustangs? Still there. All that made me feel special to drive this to Gale’s and that car show. And certainly the bold orange paint made it stand out amongst some all-time classic Mustangs. It even met with Gale’s approval; he loved the color and the look.

It might sound like a travesty to have a four-cylinder muscle car, but my tester’s 2.3-liter Ecoboosted engine actually makes more power than the legendary K-Code Mustang of the ’60s with its V8. My tester’s fuel-efficient four-cylinder made 310 horsepower. It didn’t drive like some puny four-banger – rather, it drove as you expect a Mustang to drive. With some tuning there was even enough engine noise to add to the exhilaration. The 10-speed automatic transmission was fantastic. While the purists may want the manual, which is an option, this 10-speed tranny did an efficient, amazing job of shifting at just the right time. It made this Mustang feel even quicker than it probably was.

When Lee Iacocca asked Henry Ford II for approval of the original Mustang, Ford demanded more rear legroom in the 1964 ½ Mustang. Iacocca and Gale conceded and added a small amount. It’s funny how some things haven’t changed. Today’s Mustang still could use more rear legroom, but really doesn’t need it. This two-door coupe is not meant for four passengers (2+2), even if it’s rated for that many.

Ford’s updated Sync system works great. It’s one of my favorite systems with all the new improvements. For those who had the older Sync system, the Sync 3 is vastly improved. The infotainment system is intuitive and mates well with iPhones or Androids through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The racing-style seats are angled well with the car’s dimensions, offering a nice view of the road and comfortable arm height. The seats are supportive, but don’t squeeze you on the sides, as some other seats can.

Can you imagine a muscle car that gets more than 30 miles per gallon? That’s what the Ecoboost Mustang does, and it’s one big reason why it’s so popular. My tester had an EPA rating of 21 mpg/city and 32 mpg/highway. I drove this Mustang with a heavy foot (the way all Mustangs should be driven) and I still averaged nearly 27 mpg.

Base price of my tester was a surprisingly affordable $30,860. With options like the 10-speed transmission, the bold exterior paint and the black accent paint package, and my tester had a final MSRP of $37,440. All these options made the Mustang better, so that would be added value to consider.

If I am typecast as a writer, I can live with being attached to the Mustang (and to Ford, for that matter). On the Mount Rushmore of American automobiles, the Ford Mustang is chiseled in stone, without question. My week in this Orange Fury Mustang, signing books with Gale Halderman, meeting plenty of Ford and Mustang enthusiasts, made it feel as though I made a memorable, modern-day trip to that historic mountain.

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